If you are just getting started out on Twitter or even if you have been on the site for a while, there are a few simple things you can do to make yourself a better tweeter. There are a lot of little irritating things some people do on Twitter and, by avoiding them, you’re giving yourself your best possible chance of getting followers who not only only stay with you but also stay engaged in what you have to say. In addition, one of the best way to gain followers is to develop your reputation and nothing betters your reputation and increases your profile more than having your tweets retweeted by others.

A retweet is a vote of confidence in what you have to say and that recommendation carries a lot of weight. While only a few of the messages that you send out everyday will actually be retweeted, putting yourself in that mindset can make you a better user and more likely to get followers.

While there will always be exceptions, the most general rule for being the best Twitter user that you can be can be summed up by the sentence Tweet to be Retweeted.

What does this mean?

  • Don’t use Twitter as an instant messanger: Keep private chats private! This one seems to be the hardest for some people. If what you have to say is not of interest to the entire community, it should not be an @ reply, it should be a DM. @ replies are for public discussions, acknowledgements, etc. If I have to wade through 50 @ replies from you wishing each of your followers a good morning everyday, I will consider you a waste of time and unfollow. If what you have to say to another user isn’t something useful enough to be retweeted by others, it should go in a DM. Every tweet you write takes up space in someone else’s stream so you want to make sure that what you tweet has value to the most people as possible. If a tweet is only of value to one person, then it should go as a DM.
  • Craft every tweet to contain enough value that others will want to retweet it or pass it on. This means, whenever possible, avoid pointless or simply self-serving messages (Example: “Goodnight everyone!” or “My butt itches”) or messages that are pointless or add nothing. Twitter is not an instant messenger, no matter how much it may seem like one sometimes. If what you have to tweet isn’t something you would want forwarded all over the web as a soundbite from you, simply leave it out.  You want your tweets to provide value. While helping your followers to get to know you better does provide value, there is a line between personality and wasting time that you have to be careful not to cross. If you try to craft each tweet with the assumption that you want it to be retweeted all over the web, you will find that you end up writing a higher quality of content.
  • Keep your tweets and @replies in context. There is nothing more annoying than getting a tweet that says, “Yes, I agree!” from a follower on Monday that was sent two days prior so you have no idea what they were agreeing with. No matter how recently the tweet you were reacting to was, put all your tweets and your @replies in context. If I tweet, “Gosh, I really like Lady Gaga’s Just Dance,” your reply should read, “@HillaryDePiano I don’t really care for Lady Gaga’s Just Dance, I like Pink’s Sober better” instead of the useless “Me too!” or “I hate that!” A tweet framed in context is not only more useful to anyone following you, it also makes your tweet able to stand alone which makes it more likely to be retweeted. In the same way, a tweet of “They make me so mad!” is useless out of context, even if it felt topical at the time, while a tweet of “eBay makes me so mad when they change policy” followed by a link to the policy you are referencing is a much more useful tweet for the rest of the community.
  • Whenever possible, use keywords or hash tags. With the revampe of Twitter Search, many users spend more time watching certain keywords or hash tags rather than what the people they are following are saying. You can take advantage of this by making sure to keep your tweets full of relevent keywords. Example: Using the same tweet from above, the “They make me so mad!” tweet will be seen only by your followers while the second tweet which contains the words eBay and policy as well as a link gives you three times the chances that anyone watching a search for those terms or that link will see your tweet. In the same way, a tweet of “Who made Hugh Jackman’s suit?” that you tweet during the Oscars is not going to be seen by as many people as “Who made Hugh Jackman’s suit? #oscars” Providing keywords and hash tags for context opens your tweets up to the world at large beyond only your followers. Even beyond getting you new followers, it makes your tweets much easier for your followers to read.
  • Assume your tweets are being read out of order or selectively. As with all of these, understand how important context is at all times and make sure your tweets stand on their own. Many people read their Twitter updates newest to oldest which means that your tweets are being read backwards. If your first tweet was “I’m going to call KFC and see if they have any free chicken left!” and then 20 minutes later you tweet, “No luck!”, the person reading backwards has no idea what your second tweet (which they are seeing first) is about. Sure if they really value your thoughts they may go back and try to figure out what you were talking about but most people on read Twitter hardly ever read every single tweet so they may never see your other tweet. Make sure to provide the whole story, everytime if possible.
  • Keep tweets short enough for them to be easily retweeted. Take a look at your twitter username. For instance, my name @HillaryDePiano is 15 characters incluidng the @ sign. Figure in the RT and space that make up a retweet and I am going to need to leave my tweets at least 18 characters short of the 140 characters you are allowed if I want my tweets to be easily retweeted. People are generally lazy. If I have already taken the character count into account with my tweet and they can RT with just a simple copy and paste or the push of a button, they are more likely to retweet than if they need to edit or otherwise shorten my tweet. 

So the theme of this post is: context is king! Keep your conversations on Twitter relevent, in context and useful.